Nothing breaks down the hard walls we’ve built up during this pandemic quite like soft, buttery pancakes.
Curtis Kimball had been feeling one of COVID-19’s more insidious symptoms: loneliness. Friends had moved away and no new connections were presenting themselves. But still, the craving for connection persisted.
Kimball could tell his entire city was feeling the same. “San Francisco is in a bad way. The vibes here are all effed up," he tweeted.
Figuring that everybody likes pancakes, or “at least the idea of pancakes,” Kimball decided to host his own flapjacks and friendship party (he didn’t actually call it that, but I wish he did) and he invited the entire neighborhood to join him.
Going for an old-school approach, Kimball posted whimsically odd fliers that read: “My wife said I’m getting weird. She says I need to make friends. So I’m making pancakes.”
As you probably know, I hung fliers all around the neighborhood and hilariously, people showed up! And the vibes were incredible! I had kind of accidentally stumbled on something. A lot of people were hungry to connect with their neighbors and share smiles and laughter and joy. pic.twitter.com/OGsATRrSQL
— the creme brûlée cart (@cremebruleecart) February 13, 2022
Who could say no to that?
Kimball already has experience drawing in a crowd with his delicious food. His now closed Creme Brulee Cart was the sweet stuff of San Francisco eatery legend, having people lining the streets for his super decadent combinations. I mean, he served something called SF Gold, which was creamy custard topped with dark chocolate shortbread crumble and sea salt caramel. So when this guy offers you free pancakes, you take them.
San Francisco is in a bad way. Vibes are all effed up. I can’t do much to solve the problems here, but I can make pancakes. So I hung up fliers all over the neighborhood and made pancakes. Over 75 people came and over 125 pancakes were eaten. Here’s what I learned: 👇 pic.twitter.com/EnGKW8tL7g— the creme brûlée cart (@cremebruleecart) February 3, 2022
Despite his former food fame, Kimball felt very vulnerable putting himself out there. He admitted to the TODAY show about being “nervous and self conscious,” telling himself that “this could be a really dumb idea and everyone might hate it.” But as soon as the party started, Kimball’s neighbors who lived two doors down came, and “were very excited.”
That was only the beginning. The party totaled out to more than 75 people, of all generations and backgrounds, a “mix of wonder and joy and people hungry to connect,” Kimball told TODAY.
The more people came, the more joy Kimball felt.He tells San Francisco Eater that serving food in a nonprofessional atmosphere was even more rewarding than owning his business. “The vibes were so good that going back to foodie vibes feels bad. Customers come with expectation of themselves as critics rather than just enjoyers.” He even reflected that rather than cooking, maybe bringing people together was his real calling. He’s certainly a natural at it.
But until then, San Franciscans have my undying gratitude for some of the most fun times of my life. Everyone who came was a little more wind in my sails as we all start to put our world back together. So go forth! Make friends! Reach out! Give love and receive it! pic.twitter.com/ldgjI1x9tj— the creme brûlée cart (@cremebruleecart) February 13, 2022
By the way, round 2 was even better.
On Feb 12, Kimball followed the same winning strategy: fliers + pancakes. This time, 300 people showed up, thanks in part to Kimball’s previous pancake party going viral and making several headlines.
“The joy, the laughter, the gratitude, the kindness was all overwhelming (as was the smell of pancakes),” he tweeted. “Not to be a softy, but I got a little misty a few times as every person thanked me for what to them felt like the perfect antidote at the perfect time after a rough 2 years.”
Now Kimball dreams of “people all across the country hosting Saturday morning pancake parties for their friends and neighbors.”
The joy, the laughter, the gratitude, the kindness was all overwhelming (as was the smell of pancakes). Not to be a softy, but I got a little misty a few times as every person thanked me for what to them felt like the perfect antidote at the perfect time after a rough 2 years. pic.twitter.com/fTPOXiWBEt— the creme brûlée cart (@cremebruleecart) February 13, 2022
For Kimball, this fun, creative thing he discovered is actually vital. “I think it’s important because most of our public spaces are dominated by the big arguments over our differences as people,” he told TODAY. “And those things are important. But what feels lost and might be equally important is celebrating each other and our commonalities. We need more chances, as people, to root for each other and to believe in each other as humans.”
Perhaps he is onto something here. Our souls have been left unnourished and starving. Because of the pandemic, political division, technology … the new normal. But all it takes is one one thing, one simple thing, to shift perspectives and feed that innermost part of ourselves.
Feeling good and connecting with others is the sweet stuff of life. And we should savor every bite of it.
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